Published: Feb. 18, 2002


Contact: Police & Public Safety at (517) 353-3160 or Tom Oswald at (517) 355-2281 or


EAST LANSING, Mich. - Jim Dunlap, a 32-year veteran of the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety, has been named Police Chief and Director of Public Safety at Michigan State University.

His appointment is effective Aug. 1. He will replace Bruce Benson, who has directed the department since September of 1986.

Benson, who has a doctorate in education, a master's degree in criminal justice and a bachelor's degree in police administration, will retire from the department in August and join the faculty of the MSU School of Criminal Justice.

Dunlap, 53, has served as assistant chief of the department since 1999, a position that put him in charge of the day-to-day operations of both the Police Bureau and the Parking Bureau. He now will oversee an award-winning department that has been widely recognized as a leader in successfully developing and integrating the concepts of community policing into a campus setting.

The 96-member department includes 62 sworn police officers and is responsible for law enforcement, safety and public health issues, parking and special events, and various other aspects of public safety on the 5,000-plus acre campus.

"Under Bruce Benson, our Department of Police and Public Safety has become known nationwide for its leadership in campus safety issues," said Fred Poston, MSU vice president for finance and operations and treasurer. "Jim Dunlap has been an integral part of the department's leadership throughout this period. He clearly is the right person to now step in as chief."

Dunlap most recently has worked with the 31-member MSU Task Force on Student-Police Relations, helping to formulate a new police department structure that includes a student support division. He was president of the Michigan Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators from 1999-2000 and is a member of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police. In addition, Dunlap has been an instructor at the Lansing Community College-Mid Michigan Police Academy.

"The most important and exciting aspect of my work at MSU has been the opportunity to help lead our conversion to a community oriented policing agency," Dunlap said. "We have traveled throughout the country and hosted agencies from throughout the world that have looked at our program. It is a national model, particularly for university law enforcement.

"I look forward to continuing the emphasis on community policing and an opportunity to refocus to ensure that the community is aware of our efforts and that we utilize their talents in furthering reductions in crime. I also look forward to the full implementation of the new student support division as an active partner with the various student groups in addressing the issues of our community."

Dunlap noted that serious crime has dropped dramatically on campus since the community policing concept was adopted. In fact, since 1987, felonies are down 66 percent. The future will bring new challenges, he noted, particularly in light of nationwide predictions of increased crime and the need to prepare locally for homeland security.

Dunlap is only the fourth police chief at the university in the last 55 years. The first, Art Brandstatter, served from 1947 to 1960. He was succeeded by Dick Bernitt, who served until 1986, when Benson was hired.

Benson, who was deputy chief of police for the city of Flint before coming to MSU, said that Dunlap is the right person to lead the department into the future.

"He definitely is the best person for the position," Benson said. "He has been a strong partner in the many initiatives we have undertaken to make the campus safer for students, employees and visitors. Jim is uniquely prepared to address the concerns of the future very well and to keep our community safe."

He also said that the timing was right for him to take on a new challenge.

"I've been teaching on a part-time basis for many years. This is the next logical step in my career," Benson said. "I've always had a strong desire to pursue an academic career at some point in life, and this is a good time for me to make a change.

"I'm ready for a new challenge. I have been pleased to serve as police chief at Michigan State University for the past 15 years. These have been great years for me, my wife Melinda, and our family. I wouldn't trade them for anything."

Dunlap, a native of Adrian, attended Howe Military School in Indiana. He studied at John Carroll University in Ohio before coming to Michigan State University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biological science and pre-law.

He graduated from the Michigan State Police Basic Police Academy in 1970. He joined the department as an officer in September of 1969, was promoted to sergeant in 1973 and to lieutenant in 1979. He became a captain in 1984 and was named deputy chief in charge of the Police Bureau in 1987. He has received additional professional training in safety and law enforcement through the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Michigan State Police and other such agencies.

He and his wife of 25 years, Barbara Dunlap, have two daughters: Kellie, a sophomore at MSU, and Lisa, a senior at Haslett High School.